"I don't know what should happen next"

The leader of the Flemish greens, Wouter Van Besien, has conceded that 206 days after the general election no political progress has been made. He also acknowledged that he did not know what should happen next. For her part the leader of the Flemish socialists Caroline Gennez told TV viewers that she no longer "understood this form of politics."

Mr Van Besien understands that the Flemish Christian democrats are aligning themselves with the Flemish nationalists, but adds: "I can no longer explain this to people."

Quizzed about the "What now?” Mr Van Besien answered: "That's a good question. I really haven't got a clue."

Socialist leader Gennez is furious about the position of the Flemish Christian democrats and nationalists: "They are scared stiff of their own shadow and do not dare to take the plunge." She added: "Mr Vande Lanotte will now draw his conclusions", but Ms Gennez was unwilling to be drawn on whether this actually meant that he would give up his role as Royal Mediator.

Ms Gennez fears that the Flemish Christian democrats and nationalists have blown up the talks: "I can understand this no longer. I don't understand this form of politics. She accused the two parties of bearing a great responsibility and of playing with our prosperity.

"We didn't blow up the talks"

Flemish Christian democrat senator Rik Torfs has said that his party's "no, but" is really the same as a "yes, but". He was responding to the severe criticism levelled against the Flemish Christian democrats. He added: "We haven't blown up the talks."

The party is also severely criticised in the newspapers. Political analysts believe that the Flemish Christian democrat leadership initially decided on a "yes, but" position, but that this was later hardened. Mr Torfs insisted that his party wanted the broadest possible consensus beforehand and that there is little difference between rewriting Mr Vande Lanotte's proposals before or during talks.

Mr Torfs denies that his party hardened its stand after consultations with the Flemish nationalists out of fear that their position would seem like a pale copy of that of their former alliance partner.